I had several reasons for choosing to hike Mt Bierdstat
today, but the most pressing one was cost.
I’d hears a few weeks ago they were thinking about instilling (gasp!)
fees to hike this trail or park at the trailhead. I’ve been burned by Culebra and most recently
the Barr Trail in Manitou Springs, so I wasn’t about to let this happen
again. I know it’s just “talk”, but I’ve
seen it escalate rather quickly.
I’d planned on saving this hike for next year as a winter
hike, but with the mention of fees I decided to do it asap. Which I wanted to be last week but the
weather wasn’t cooperating. So it was
today. Also, I needed to be back by 2pm
for a survival skills campout I’m leading, so I needed an easy hike close to
home. And I’m sick. I’m not sick sick, but I’m not 100% (more
like 60%) so I need a hike that didn’t require me to be at my best.
Oh, and I’d heard a mama and baby moose had been spotted I the
Mt Bierdstadt it was!
I arrived at the 2WD trailhead at 4:30am. There were several other cars in the parking
lot but it could hold many more. It was
super foggy out, but my directions said there’d be a bathroom in the west
parking lot and the trail would start from the east parking lot. I’ve never been to this area before so I took
the directions at their word. While
there is a bathroom in the west parking lot, and the trail does start in the
east parking lot, it connects to the west parking lot. I found this out after
hiking around for 15 minutes in the fog.
If there hadn’t been fog I’d have seen these signs easily:
So I started the trail at about 4:45am. It was dark and there was low lying fog (can
you really call it low-lying fog over 10,000 feet?) In any event, I couldn’t see in front of me
due to the fog, but I could look up and see stars. I saw several shooting stars and enjoyed this
part of the hike. Sorry, no pictures
here (they’ll come later) because it was just too dark.
The boardwalks were slippery, I thought with ice, but as it
turns out it was the mud that made them slippery.
The trail was simple to follow. It would be very difficult to get lost. Very difficult. There were posts every 200 feet or so, I’m
guessing for people snowshoeing.
Once you got above treeline there was still a well maintained
trail and cairns. I looked back and
could see several hiking parties behind me.
It was beautiful watching the sky light up in the morning.
I didn’t see anyone on the hike up except a man and his
dog. His dog was never closer than 100
yards from him, and followed me on much of my hike. It was a bit annoying, as the dog flushed out
every bird (marmot, pika, etc.) on the hike before I got there. One of my favorite parts of hiking is seeing
wildlife. Not with this dog. When I passed the dog’s owner I asked him how
many more miles he thought his dog got in than he did. He took my question seriously: “I’m guessing 3 to 1”. I’d guess double that.
Not much more to mention about this hike except it was
really simple. Easy. It felt TOO easy. Just shy of 3000’ elevation gain in 3.5 miles
(7 round trip). I didn’t even break a sweat.
Here’s a view of the trail looking down from just before
some navigation is required in the rocks.
It got colder as I climbed higher and I needed to put on my
gloves and hat. The wind didn’t help,
and when I summited at 6:15am I was freezing.
I arrived for an awesome sunrise over the mountains (I know the sun
rises earlier, but with the other mountains blocking the horizon I’d arrived at
the perfect time).
I took a few pictures and was off the summit pretty
On my way down is when I started encountering people. TONS of people. Hundreds of people. They looked like ants climbing in a single
file line. It was insane! I didn’t think this type of thing actually happened,
but here I was experiencing it.
Shadowselfie, because that’s what I do
I saw no less than 3 men peeing alongside the trail. In their defense the entire trail was above
treeeline, but hey, I can SEE you! At
least walk the minimum 200 feet from the trail to do your business!
Now I can totally see why they want to impose fees. It’s a Friday and the trail was PACKED. If fees gets people not to hike this trail I’m
all for it (now that I’ve hiked it).
Most of the hikers were ill prepared.
The women were wearing more makeup this morning than I wear in a year,
and I stopped counting at 30 Padagonia hats (all new).
The best part of my hike?
I saw a moose! I’d been looking
for them, as I’d heard they were in the area, but this was no mama and
baby. This was a really large bull
moose, about a quarter mile from the trail.
I could see him because I was hiking out, but no one in front of me
hiking towards me could see him. I didn’t
point him out (he was too far away to do any harm, or even get a good picture)
but I was THRILLED I’d seen one!
So, as I mentioned before, this was a really easy hike. I arrived back at my truck at 8:15am and decided
to head to the gym to get in 5 more miles before camping this afternoon. I did more elevation gain in that hour than
the entire hike up Mt. Bierdstadt. It
wasn’t a bad hike, but the people ruined it.
There were a few streams to cross, and in the dark it was a
bit sketchy, but easy in the light of day.
Here’s a photo of the West parking lot (there’s an East one
as well). On Monday I’ll upload the
video that shows the cars going in either direction for a quarter mile, lining
Here’s a video of the parking lot at the trailhead:
And a video from the summit: